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Charles Eley, FAIA, PE, ASHRAE

Eley Consulting

San Francisco, CA


The world is very close to exceeding the carbon budget established by climate scientists. Drastic cuts in emissions are needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Architects are key in addressing the problem.  As our buildings become more energy-efficient and self-powered and as the electric grid becomes cleaner, the challenges increase. The first few zero-carbon and zero-energy buildings pose few problems.  As renewable energy increases, especially solar, electric utilities will need to compensate at dusk by firing up quick-acting gas plants. Batteries and other short-term storage techniques will be needed to level out building demand and provide predictable and manageable loads to the grid. Finally, long-term storage (perhaps hydrogen) will be needed to address seasonal variations in renewable energy production.


At the end of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the difference between zero-net-energy and zero-net-carbon as design goals and have the ability to discuss these concepts with potential clients.

  • Anticipate how a future clean electric grid will influence the design, engineering, and equipment choices of building construction and renovation.

  • Understand the benefits and basic design principles of renewable energy systems and battery storage.

  • Understand off-site renewable energy procurement options, like community solar, that may be used in lieu of on-site renewable energy.



Zero-Carbon Emissions and the Role of Architects

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